King Kaufman's Sports Daily

Where's the former trainer who says he was interviewed four times and blamed management, not players, for the steroid mess? Plus: Clemens, bowl-game grad rates.

By King Kaufman

Published December 18, 2007 11:00AM (EST)

Interesting point brought up by some people with nothing better to do than to post about this column's Monday edition on the Baseball Primer Newsblog: Where was Larry Starr in the Mitchell Report?


Starr was a trainer for the Cincinnati Reds and Florida Marlins before leaving baseball in 2002 to become an assistant athletic director at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. In late November, he told Florida Today writer David Jones that he'd been interviewed by former Sen. George Mitchell four times and expected to be contacted again.

He also said he refused to name the names of players he suspected of steroid use -- he said the first time he suspected a player was in 1984 -- and that he blamed baseball management and the players union equally for turning a blind eye to the steroid issue for more than 20 years.

"The commissioner's office, Bud Selig and that group, and the players association, Don Fehr and that group," he said, "they sit there and say, 'Well, now that we know that this happened we're going to do something about it.'

"I have notes from the Winter Meetings where the owners group and the players association sat in meetings with the team physicians and team trainers. I was there. And team physicians stood up and said, 'Look, we need to do something about this. We've got a problem here if we don't do something about it.' That was in 1988."

Though Starr had unkind words for the union, he defended the players themselves.

"My whole thing is, I don't totally blame the players," he told Florida Today. "They didn't abuse the system. They used the system."

"If Mark McGwire's hitting home runs out of the stadium, wouldn't you want to do the same thing?" he continued. "Especially when this stuff came from GNC, and they weren't told they couldn't use it. They weren't told they couldn't use steroids. So why not? Especially when people that were selling it to them were telling them there were no harmful effects."

Starr said that, with no testing in place, he couldn't accuse players of using something illegal, so he took the tack of offering to help them by telling them everything he knew about performance-enhancing drugs while protecting their confidence. "It really put the medical people in a bad situation," he said.

Now if you'll turn to your PDF copy of the Mitchell Report and search for the word "Starr," how many times does his name show up in the report, after at least four interviews in which he blamed the union and management but not players?

I also get zero. Interesting.

Have to admit, that's funny [PERMALINK]

Roger Clemens' new, bad-guy reputation had its first action Monday when the Texas High School Baseball Coaches Association canceled an appearance by the Rocket at its convention in January. reports that officers of the group reviewed the situation over the weekend before concluding that Clemens "was an inappropriate influencer."

The topic for Clemens' keynote speech? "My vigorous workout, how I played so long."

Yeah, that must have been some debate over the weekend. I can imagine the pro-Clemens side: "We won't be the first joke on every late-night talk show. The writers are on strike!"

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The brain-power bowl schedule [PERMALINK]

College bowl season starts Thursday with the Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego. If you're like me, it's snuck up on you like Christmas, you're not quite ready and, unless the ol' alma mater or the local team is involved, you need help figuring out who to root for in all these meaningless games that fill up the two weeks before the meaningful meaningless bowl games in January.

Hang on: I realize you're not like me. One of those columnist things. Go with me on it.

The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida annually publishes the Academic Progress Rates, or APR, and graduation success rates of the teams matched up in all the bowls. So you can see how the teams in the various bowls are doing at their true academic mission, graduating football players.

I always root for the team with the lower APR, because I figure the guys on the other team will get better jobs, so the low-APR guys should get a little something. Here's the schedule, with each team's APR score:


Poinsettia Bowl, San Diego
Navy, 982
Utah, 949


New Orleans Bowl
Memphis, 954
Florida Atlantic, 914

Saturday Bowl, Birmingham, Ala.
Southern Miss, 970
Cincinnati, 941

New Mexico Bowl, Albuquerque
Nevada, 920
New Mexico, 915

Las Vegas Bowl
BYU, 945
UCLA, 931
Willing to make an exception in this case and root for the team with the higher APR.


Hawaii Bowl, Honolulu
Boise State, 955
East Carolina, 921
Yup, Boise State and East Carolina are going head-to-head with the NFL. Can you imagine the Broncos, with that 955 APR, agreeing to that?

Dec. 26

Motor City Bowl, Detroit
Central Michigan, 921
Purdue, 915

Dec. 27

Holiday Bowl, San Diego
Texas, 944
Arizona State, 926
Yes, we do need two bowl games in San Diego a week apart. Why do you ask?

Dec. 28

Champs Sports Bowl, Orlando, Fla.
Boston College, 976
Michigan State, 922

Texas Bowl, Houston
TCU, 962
Houston, 928

Emerald Bowl, San Francisco
Maryland, 944
Oregon State, 913

Dec. 29

Meineke Car Care Bowl, Charlotte, N.C.
Wake Forest, 966
Connecticut, 963

Liberty Bowl, Memphis
Central Florida, 928
Mississippi State, 921
The hometown team of this report.

Alamo Bowl, San Antonio
Penn State, 960
Texas A&M, 922

Dec. 30

Independence Bowl, Shreveport, La.
Alabama, 942
Colorado, 934

Dec. 31

Armed Forces Bowl, Fort Worth, Texas
Air Force, 975
California, 965
I still get to root for the ol' alma mater as it engages in the game with the highest aggregate APR. Pinkies out!

Sun Bowl, El Paso, Texas
Oregon, 912
South Florida, 910
Closest match, not counting a tie, and the lowest aggregate APR.

Humanitarian Bowl, Boise, Idaho
Georgia Tech, 959
Fresno State, 945

Music City Bowl, Nashville
Florida State, 952
Kentucky, 946

Insight Bowl, Tempe, Ariz.
Indiana, 943
Oklahoma State, 924

Chick-fil-A Bowl, Atlanta
Auburn, 967
Clemson, 945

Jan. 1

Outback Bowl, Tampa
Tennessee, 938
Wisconsin, 935

Cotton Bowl, Dallas
Missouri, 934
Arkansas, 934

Gator Bowl, Jacksonville, Fla.
Virginia, 948
Texas Tech, 931

Capital One Bowl, Orlando, Fla.
Florida, 961
Michigan, 958
This one surprise you? Did me.

Rose Bowl, Pasadena, Calif.
USC, 947
Illinois, 926

Sugar Bowl, New Orleans
Georgia, 963
Hawaii, 902
Wow. Biggest difference. And the Warriors have all that time on planes to study too.

Jan. 2

Fiesta Bowl, Glendale, Ariz.
Oklahoma, 936
West Virginia, 924
Good grief, is there no end to this list?

Jan. 3

Orange Bowl, Miami
Virginia Tech, 928
Kansas, 918

Jan. 5

International Bowl, Toronto
Rutgers, 971
Ball State, 942
This might just be the most pointless bowl of 'em all.

Jan. 6

GMAC Bowl, Mobile, Ala.
Tulsa, 935
Bowling Green, 921
They're just messing with us by this point.

Jan. 7

BCS National Championship Game, New Orleans
LSU, 941
Ohio State, 928
I don't think I've ever rooted for The OSU before.

Previous column: Bumbling Bud

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    King Kaufman is a senior writer for Salon. You can e-mail him at king at salon dot com. Facebook / Twitter / Tumblr

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